Free entertainment at the registrar’s office- July 24, 2012
Random things can amuse you when you are in an amusable frame of mind. Today, mum and me spent some quality time together at the Mini Secretariat in Gurgaon. We were there to register the sales deed for mum’s old apartment. Since we had done the buying thing in April, we knew the drill. The registry office and indeed the entire building seemed to be in an afternoon stupor and things progressed smoothly, more or less.
In the midst of groups of people on their mission to buy and sell homes, offices, shops, etc, roamed a single beggar girl. Yes, right next to the Police Commissioner’s offices, in a nation where begging is technically illegal, there was this girl asking everyone for money. People simply stared at her, bewildered that she should be here at all. Didn’t she belong to the traffic lights, the pavement outside the Metro station, the parking area outside the local market? On our previous visit, there was a shoeshine boy as well; apparently, he offered to shoeshine mum’s chappals! Anyway, back to the beggar girl. An auntyji (no offence, but I can only call her that!) actually interrogated her, wanting to know if there were more like her lurking outside before shelling out a few coins to send her packing. Miraculously, they did!
Meanwhile, we kept being asked to move seats, then go to some window to complete one process and to another window to complete another. The people we were selling to were also entertaining. The buyer did not smile once at us (he condescended to contort his mouth into a grimace that could, with a stretch of imagination, be construed as a smile; but I refuse to give in!), even though we have met thrice by now. Towards the end of the process, he did smile at the bank representative who checked the documents in the end! Go figure!
His wife, the co-buyer, simply sat obediently in one or the other chair, rising to place her signatures wherever required. In the final few minutes, out of curiosity, I picked up a conversation with her and discovered she is a highly qualified professional with a well-established practice! One would not have known from her melt-into-the-furniture demeanor at all!
The most entertaining, though, was the buyer’s father. A simple soul he seemed to be, describing his humble background and thanking my mum profusely several times for selling her house to his son. He asked for her blessings, invited us to his home in Delhi where he lives with his wife, also a retired government servant like him. He told us about his daughter and her life, his expectations from his children, his joys and sorrows. At some point when we got busy, I noticed he had wandered into another group and was even having animated conversation with these people he didn’t know from Adam! What a guy he was!
I had quite a lot of fun there. An hour and a half of doing nothing but people-watching, since I wasn’t really needed for anything but moral support. Watching the machinery of a property registry office in operation-the touts, the professional brokers, the clerks, the acceptance of corruption as a nearly legitimate part of the system, the hangers on, the worried folks, the bored ones, the excitable and the matter-of-fact ones, the large groups that discussed everything loudly, the obscure and efficient ones that did their work and scuttled away!
What did they think of us, the others who were as bored and amusable this morning? A giggly pair of floosies? A mother-daughter duo that didn’t stop jabbering? A crazy twosome? I only hope we entertained them all as well!